Major victory: Clatsop County denies the Oregon LNG pipeline application

Commissioners Vote to Reject Oregon LNG Pipeline

On October 9, 2013, the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 to reject the Oregon LNG project. In particular, the Board concluded that Oregon LNG’s proposed 36-inch, high-pressure pipeline violated the county’s land use rules. The Board vote received a standing ovation from an overflow crowd in Astoria, most of whom were wearing red shirts to signify their opposition to Oregon LNG’s proposal. See next steps at the bottom of this page.

Cheryl Johnson, a retired school librarian and local activist, stated, “We are thrilled that our Commissioners have chosen to respect the overwhelming testimony of their constituents. The people of Clatsop County have been very clear: we value our farms, our forests, and our Columbia River, and we oppose the Oregon LNG export project.”

Oregon LNG spent over two years attempting to delay the hearing by the Board of Commissioners, but their legal efforts failed. In the meantime, Oregon LNG converted its project from a proposal to import natural gas to a proposal to liquefy and export gas. Without approval from the County, the project cannot be built.

“Oregon LNG has no place in Clatsop County or anywhere else in the Northwest,” added Dan Serres, Conservation Director with Columbia Riverkeeper. “As the Board noted, it’s clear that this project conflicts with local land use laws by damaging forests, harming fish habitat, and threatening local landowners. We expect state and federal officials to respect this decision, and to put an end to Oregon LNG’s energy export scheme.”

Note from local activist, Laurie Caplan, on last night's hearing and major victory

"Here are some inspiring numbers:

The Commissioners voted 5 - 0, unanimously, to DENY the Oregon LNG Pipeline. The hearing lasted four hours, til about 7:30 pm. The commissioners deliberated over specific findings, county rules, Goals, and the Comprehensive Plan. They were intent on doing the hearing as thoroughly as possible, and according to law.  

Some 80+ NO LNGers rallied on 9th and Commercial - many were there 30 minutes before our official start time! See the determined, upbeat, and enthusiastic NO LNGers in the photo.

At least 100 people - virtually all NO LNGers, except for county commissioners and staff - filled the hearing room to standing-room-only.

Columbia Riverkeeper attorney, Lauren Goldberg, was calm, composed, respectful, knowledgeable, and spot-on in her presentation to the county commissioners.  

Stick with us as we go ONWARD TO VICTORY!"


Next Steps & Take Action

Is this the final straw for Oregon LNG? We hope so. The next step in the process is for Oregon to tell the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that the project violates Oregon's management plan under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). FERC cannot approve an LNG license unless the state says the project is consistent with the CZMA. Here, the project is not consistent because Oregon's coastal plan states very clearly that a project must comply with county land use laws. Therefore, Oregon must reject the project. The Clatsop County decision to reject LNG is a major victory that we've been working on for years. This will be very difficult for Oregon LNG to overcome.

What about preemption? Oregon LNG's new favorite line is that Clatsop County's decisionmaking is preempted by federal law. Not true. While the Natural Gas Act does say that FERC has the exclusive siting authority for LNG terminals and pipelines, the law expressly states that FERC cannot trump the CZMA. Practically, if Oregon LNG really believed that Clatsop County's laws are preempted, Oregon LNG would have applied to the county in the first place. 

So, if Oregon LNG continues the slash and burn approach to endless legal challenges, they might now challenge Oregon's denial of the coastal zone certification. Or they might challenge Clatsop County's pipeline denial to the Land Use Board of Appeals. Is the fight over? No. But Oregon LNG clearly faces an uphill battle.